Firefighters in Scotland were called to tackle more than 60 deliberate fires every single day during Spring last year – almost double during the same period in 2018.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews were mobilised to a total of 3,658 incidents of deliberate fire-raising between March and April 2019.
The figures have been released to coincide with the launch of the service’s #SpringSafety campaign.
This is an increase of 97 per cent on the year before, when SFRS crews were turned out to 1,852 needless blazes.
The service’s own data shows how deliberate fires in Spring last year included 658 in the city of Glasgow (an increase of 106% on 2018), 256 in Edinburgh (up 100%) and 58 in Aberdeen (up 52%).
Other notable year-on-year increases included a 174% rise in North Lanarkshire (up from 202 to 555) and 102% rise in the Falkirk and West Lothian area (up from 135 to 273).
The 3,658 deliberate fires were largely comprised of outdoor incidents impacting fields, refuse, and countryside, but also involved hundreds of building and vehicle fires.
This “shocking” rise is placing lives at risk, warned SFRS Director of Prevention and Protection, Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart.
ACO Haggart said: “We take a zero-tolerance approach to deliberate fire setting and it is a small minority of individuals who are potentially putting themselves, our firefighters and innocent bystanders at risk of serious harm and injury.
“Make no mistake – fire can cause injury and death, it can be devastating to properties, businesses and the environment.
“Last year, witnessed a shocking rise in deliberate fire-raising during the Spring period.
“These incidents are a needless drain on our resources and can impact on our response to genuine emergencies – where lives might very well be at risk.
“The fact that our firefighters are called to thousands of deliberately set fires each year is completely unacceptable.”
ACO Haggart warned that the SFRS will continue to do everything in its power to help Police Scotland trace those risking the safety of communities across Scotland.
He said: “It absolutely goes without saying that we prefer to prevent fires – not fight fires.
“As a result, our firefighters work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages, and parents, guardians and carers can also help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks.
“But let me be very clear – we operate a strict zero tolerance approach to deliberate fire raising. It is reckless, selfish, and can have devastating consequences.
“We will continue to work very closely with our police and local authority partners to provide evidence that will ensure those responsible are identified and held to account for their actions.
“It is vital that we continue to remind people that deliberate fire setting is a crime and that a criminal record can affect future life and job opportunities – a price that can be easily avoided.”